Originally posted by IWASATTHECATCH:
Pete, can you really place Phil above Walsh?
As much as I'd like to irritate you guys by saying yes...no, I wouldn't. But it would be very, very close because there's something to be said for sustained dominance, which is the only thing lacking from Walsh's resume since he only coached us for 10 years.
Walsh helped develop (or more accurately, further) an offense that changed the sport on both sides of the ball, and his coaching tree is incredible. Although he only coached for a decade, the mark he made is still part of the game today. Can't say that about Jackson.
However, too many fans just brush aside what Jackson's done, IMO. 10 titles in 18 years of coaching. 12 conference titles. "But he had great players". A lot of coaches have great players and don't win, and Walsh had great players too. Amongst Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Kobe Bryant, & Shaquille O'Neal, only one of them won a title without him (Shaq), and that was as the 2nd best player on a team with a HOF coach as well. (Pat Riley)
When Jackson replaced Doug Collins, the Bulls got better. By his second year, they were NBA champions, after consistently being the whipping boys of the Pistons & Celtics. (most people forget this) He got Jordan to buy into a system that took the ball out of his hands a lot more than Collins' offense, and into Pippen's. He also surrounded himself with quality assistant coaches, and by all reports knew how to delegate. Not all coaches can surrender their ego to that extent.
When he joined the Lakers they were the most talented roster in the league, yet had imploded in the playoffs in 3 consecutive years. Never even got the Finals. In his first year in LA, we went 67-15 and won the title. He successfully managed two alpha dogs to the tune of 3 consecutive NBA titles. If it was that easy...why couldn't other people do it?
Then you have his 2nd stint in LA. The Lakers were coming off of a 38-44 season, and the only significant roster change was Caron Butler for Kwame Brown (a downgrade in anyone's mind)...then the Lakers won 45 games and took the Suns to 7 games. Once the Lakers got a legit #2 guy (initially Bynum, and then Gasol after the trade), the Lakers were back in the Finals, and winning it all the next year. And Gasol isn't on par with Shaq, Kobe, MJ, or Pippen.
I think it's hard to differentiate Walsh's legacy as a talent evaluator from his legacy as a coach. He had great players too, but he brought them in. While he deserves credit for that, you can't draw a parallel to Phil Jackson, because Jackson never had that responsibility...and we are comparing COACHES here...not GMs.
Phil ain't quite Walsh, but don't sell him short. IMO, it's a lot more difficult to go from good to great than it is to go from bad to good. Phil's done that better than anyone.